‘Ridiculous’: Doctors slam impact of border closure
CONCERNED doctors say their elderly patients on the Gold Coast-Tweed border are too scared to drive across for appointments during travel restrictions.
Emails obtained by The Gold Coast Bulletin confirm medical staff have reached out to Opposition shadow health frontbencher Ros Bates asking her to lobby for an urgent review of the border pass system introduced as part of Covid 19 restrictions.
"I am a doctor on the border. My patients come from both sides. The Tweed patients are frightened by the limited ability to cross locally," a GP told the Mudgeeraba MP.
He described the backstreet closures in Coolangatta as "ridiculous" and causing grief for border locals wanting to visit their Queensland doctor.
"If the roads around the airport were more tightly supervised the local traffic from Tweed to Coolangatta would not be impacted and the goal of sealing Queensland could still be achieved," the doctor wrote.
"There are enough obstacles to continuing medical practice at present without this extra, unnecessary one. I may yet go against the flow of retired doctors returning to work and resign in protest."
GPs later complained that patients were continuing to be delayed and their staffers in uniform were stopped and questioned about their journey across the border.
A practice manager in another email wrote: "We have concern for patients attending category A or urgent surgery or an appointment who require a border pass when coming from NSW and are 70 or 80 years old with no internet access or too fearful to cross the border.
"When I contacted the emergency border pass phone hotline yesterday and explained in depth my concerns I was told patients would not be able to pass by providing evidence of hospital admission or an appointment - that every person must have a pass which is only accessible via computer.
"I agree with the border restrictions but we have to be more flexible for elderly patients coming from northern NSW to John Flynn Hospital."
Ms Bates, a registered nurse, said the communities of the southern Gold Coast have had to suffer at the hands of the Palaszczuk Government since day one of the border closure.
Doctors had told her the overzealous checks were "tearing apart our close-knit twin towns community".
"This is one tight-knit community separated by an arbitrary line on a map. No thought has been given by the Labor Government to the Tweed and Coolangatta communities and their vulnerable, elderly residents," Ms Bates said.
"It is unacceptable that the Palaszczuk Government are forcing elderly residents to go online
and obtain a border pass just to visit a nearby health clinic or hospital for an essential health
"Medical practices in the area are spending valuable time that could be spent on patient
care explaining how to obtain border passes and trying to make sense of the Labor
Government's border bungle.
"As a nurse, I know that running a medical practice during a pandemic would be stressful
enough without having to advise patients on how to obtain a border pass to travel 5 to 10
minutes from their home to the local doctor."
Police Minister Mark Ryan said public safety was the government's number one concern.
Queensland Police at the border were enforcing the Chief Health Officer's directives to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect vulnerable Queenslanders, he said.
"Exemptions are available for New South Wales residents who need to visit Queensland for medical appointments. Individuals can apply for a border pass through the streamlined online application form at www.qld.gov.au/border-pass," he said.
Health Minister Steven Miles said the care army was busy working with Queenslanders most at risk of serious complications if they contract COVID-19 by assisting with their essential shopping, including groceries and medical supplies.
"There are currently more than 25,000 caring Queenslanders that have registered to help their fellow neighbours and loved ones and I'm sure many more and doing their bit for their family and friends," he said.
"The Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service is working closely with their older patients to keep them informed and up to date via telephone contact about any medical appointments they may have.
"However, I want every senior Queenslander to know they can ask for help, should they need, at any time by calling the Community Support Hotline on 1800 173 349."
Originally published as 'Ridiculous': Doctors slam impact of border closure